This is the booking photo of Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva.Amador County Sheriff
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The mayor of Stockton, California was arrested Thursday and charged with felony eavesdropping, among other misdemeanor charges, related to a strip poker game that he allegedly played with teenage counselors at a camp for economically disadvantaged kids last year, according to prosecutors in neighboring Amador County.
Mayor Anthony Ray Silva was taken into custody Thursday morning at the annual mayor’s Youth Camp in Silver Lake, just outside of Stockton, an inland port city approximately 80 miles east of San Francisco.
Allen Sawyer, Silva’s attorney, told Ars that his client remains mayor, has posted bail, and has returned Thursday afternoon to the camp to help final clean up.
The City of Stockton said in a statement that law enforcement are on site at the camp, presumably to keep the peace.
“The mayor’s position is that this is false and that he’s going to fight it, and he’s innocent and that he wants his day in court,” Sawyer told Ars. “He denies the charges. He absolutely intends to fight it.”
According to an official biography, Silva was born and raised in Stockton and was elected mayor in November 2012. Previously he served as president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stockton and also served as a board member on the Stockton Unified District Board of Education.
“Not until you get naked”
In a statement sent to the media, county authorities said that they “received evidence” from the FBI after the federal agency got a warrant to search Silva’s phone in November 2015.
It is not yet clear exactly what model of phone Silva had at the time.
In October 2015, Silva was detained at San Francisco International Airport upon his return from China, where Department of Homeland Security officials demanded that he hand over his electronic devices, including the passwords. He seemingly complied with their requests, but he publicly objected to how the matter was handled.
“Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property,” Silva told the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”
As part of the data collected from his phone, the FBI found “23 photographs and four video clips” taken and recorded last year at the annual mayoral camp.
According to prosecutors, one of the clips “contains audio of a conversation between participants involved in a strip poker game that occurred in Silva’s bedroom at the camp.
The conversation between the participants indicated that they were naked. One of the participants was a 16-year-old male.
The audio of the surreptitious recording clearly indicates that the participants did not want to be recorded.”
Silva was arrested on a felony charge of recording confidential communications and misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, furnishing alcohol to persons under the age of 21, and child endangerment.
A 19-page affidavit, written by Terrance Brass of the Amador County District Attorney’s office, detailed some of the conversations secretly recorded by Silva in August 2015.
According to his transcribed excerpts, they include teens saying things like “not until you get naked” and “give us our clothes back.”
Forthcoming election looms large
According to the Stockton Record, this year’s camp is set to end on Friday.
The camp is owned by the United States Forest Service, which has leased the camp to the city for nearly a century for $1 per year.
The Record continued:
Allegations of inappropriate behavior by Silva date back at least 11 years.
The allegations have been about improper sexual behavior and of underage drinking occurring in his presence.
None has ever been proved, and those who have made the accusations have always chosen to remain anonymous.
Silva always has forcefully denied improper conduct.
Silva is set to face a challenger, Michael Tubbs, who is currently a member of the city council, in a mayoral election in November 2016.
Sawyer, who said he had not yet read the affidavit, said he found it strange that federal and local authorities would bring these felony and misdemeanor charges so close to a pending election—Silva’s arraignment would come just one month before the election.
“So why does this suddenly have to be executed now?” he told Ars. “They allowed him to start the camp again, having all this information? Seems kind of unusual.
If they thought he was a danger or flight risk or something else, why did they allow this to transpire the way they did? Right now, this is their side of the events. We haven’t even had a chance to digest what they’ve said.”